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Latitude: 56.3789 / 56°22'44"N
Longitude: -3.8326 / 3°49'57"W
OS Eastings: 286926
OS Northings: 722241
OS Grid: NN869222
Mapcode National: GBR 1H.22XW
Mapcode Global: WH5P1.3X6R
Entry Name: Ferntower Road, Knowehead House Including Terraced Garden with Sundial, Boundary Walls, Gatepiers and Gates
Listing Date: 20 February 2002
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 395885
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48465
Building Class: Cultural
County: Perth and Kinross
Electoral Ward: Strathearn
Traditional County: Perthshire
J Murray Robertson, 1885. 2-storey and attic, 3-bay, rectangular-plan villa with stick style references, carved colonial reliefs and elaborate Shavian red brick stacks; sited on ground falling to SW. Stugged squared rubble with droved ashlar quoins and margins. Raised base and droved band courses, pargetted, cavetto eaves cornice. Stone mullions.
SW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: symmetrical. Steps with flanking dwarf walls lead to set-back centre bay with 3-part timber-posted verandah at each floor, ground floor bipartite opening with part-glazed door and deep fanlight to left and window to right (appearing as door), similar French window above below swept roof and pyramidally-roofed dormer tripartite with dominant flanking stacks. Piend-roofed outer bays with projecting tripartite window and glazed returns at each floor, ground floor windows with pelmet/blind-effect at windowhead, and 1st floor apron panels of diagonally-coursed ashlar flanking relief carved panel (see Notes), that to right with Camel, male figure and palm trees, that to left with crouching tiger, native and palm trees.
NW (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: centre bay with full-height, pyramidally-roofed porch with half-timbering and decorative plasterwork, 4-light-timber transomed window at ground over timber base, panelled timber door on return to right and similar glazing to left return, 1st floor with bipartite window and single light to each return. Flanking bays with bipartite window to right and tripartite to left at ground, and small piended bipartite dormer window to right.
SE ELEVATION: advanced piended bay to right of centre with tripartite window and glazed returns to each floor, door in re-entrant angle to left with closely-aligned window beyond to left, modern door (altered from window) in re-entrant above and flat-roofed dormer to left, all behind dog-leg fire escape stair.
NE ELEVATION: slightly altered elevation (see Notes) with variety of elements including 3 single storey piended projections, that to right with 4-light window below shallow horizontal 4-light dormer on return to right, and broad decorative chimney breast piercing eaves into tall stack.
Decoratively-astragalled, 2-, 4- and 6-pane glazing patterns to upper sashes over plate glass lower in timber sash and case windows; coloured glass to stair window (see Interior) and top lights of porch. Graded grey Glenalmond slates. Banded, coped red brick stacks with full-complement of cans. Decorative cast-iron finials.
INTERIOR: fine original decorative scheme in place, in both Eastern/Indian and classical styles. Decorative plasterwork; some fitted cupboards with decoratively-astragalled display shelves; timber fire surrounds with carved overmantels and some original wall-light fittings. Ventilators for air conditioning system. Porch with mosaic-patterned floor, screen door and stair hall with turned timber detailing, dog-leg staircase with turned timber balusters, ball-finialled newels and coloured leaded glass to lower sashes of bipartite stair window. Some internal doors with coloured leaded glass.
TERRACED GARDEN WITH SUNDIAL: rubble terrace walls to SW; columnar base to sundial carved with 'EARTH CHANGES, BUT THY SOUL AND GOD STAND SURE'.
BOUNDARY WALLS, GATEPIERS AND GATES: saddleback-coped stepped rubble boundary walls. Squat pyramidally-coped square-section ashlar gatepiers with reduced top-stage carved to each face with semicircular design and 'KNOWEHEAD' to outer faces. Decorative 2-leaf ironwork gates.
The attribution to J Murray Robertson, is made owing to the villas similarities with this architects designs, notably The Bughties, Camphill Road, Broughty Ferry, and because of the patron's probable connections in Dundee. Knowehead returned to private ownership during the early 1970s after a period as a Church of Scotland Eventide Home. The house was built by a family with jute mills in Calcutta and possibly connected with Dundee or Perth. The Mair family, connected with the Knowles family, lived here for 15 years. Upon the death of the father, the house was sold and eventually purchased by Major General Frederick Napean Smith who had served in India. This gentleman was married to the daughter of the Earl of Gordon, whose half sister, Charlotte Gordon Cumming, was a plant collector and author of 'In The Himalayas' (1886). Charlotte lived at Knowehead during her later years, and was responsible for much of the planting. Recently (late 1990s) the present owner received a visit from a descendent who is now Director of the Sidney Botanic Gardens in Australia. During remedial work, a tin box was found under the attic floor, it contained a quantity of letters dating to the early 1870s. One however was contemporaneous with the house and had been written at Baranagor Mills, Calcutta. The carved panels to the SW elevation may represent the source of the builder's wealth, namely jute from India depicted by the tiger, and cotton from Sudan depicted by the camel. The NE elevation was altered during a period of separate ownership when this wing was known as 'Little Knowehead'.
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